Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Words As Surfboards

Reading Natalie Goldberg yesterday, flipping through really, Writing Down The Bones, which I haven't looked at in over ten years. When I did last look at it, I hated it. After, in my twenties, relying on it to the point of scripture. Now I love it again, or can heed it, see how it's beautifully written, thoughtful and - at least the sections I glanced at - right in a provocative way.

I'll use it, or be inspired by it, for class next week. First time I'll stand in front of (sit with) students, in this case a bunch of precocious home-schooled pre-teens. For some reason, my anxiety around teaching diminishes considerably once I begin to think of myself as essentially facilitating a writing group with a few loosely-articulated goals. I want the kids to have fun with writing, to learn a bit about how to interact with others around writing, and to work on a writing project in a sustained way that's maybe different than they've done before.

My theory is along the lines of Gatto, giving kids space to do the work, and getting as far away from the educational "box" as possible.

For the first session I'm working on the difference between writing for public vs. private consumption -

- The thing about the twenty sentences this way - see above - is that they don't satisfy. Yet there's a point where the opacity - see yesterday's sentences, and the preceding entries - begins to feel too easy, too glib. It is, in part, about one's proclivity to revelation (what kind, when, how personal etc.) but also a matter of craft. These sentences here are utilitarian, but not delightful. Their energy doesn't crackle - it hums at a low level.

Equally important - the sentences this way don't evoke imagery, don't return me (or locate me) in the physical world that I know. They aren't in "the mystery." Maybe that's how I should put it. Writing is desirable that moves away from language as merely useful, merely a container for the exchange of information, data. Words as surfboards, the waves rising, deep and getting deeper sea surrounding.

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